Global Configuration System

Bob provides a global configuration system for package variables. The configuration file is typically located in ${HOME}/.bobrc. The path of the file can be overridden by an environment variable named ${BOBRC}. This configuration file should be used to customize global variables used by Bob libraries. One of the typical use-cases is to specify the location of raw datasets on the user’s computers.

The configuration file is accessible through the bob config command line:

$ bob config --help

You can view the content of the configuration file:

$ bob config show

You can view the content of a specific variable in the configuration file:

$ bob config get

You can change the value of a specific variable in the configuration file:

$ bob config set /home/bobuser/databases/orl_faces

The rest of this guide explains how developers of Bob packages can take advantage of the configuration system on their own packages.

For Developers

The configuration file is automatically loaded and is available as bob.extension.rc. Here is an example on how the configuration system can be potentially used to configure the location of a raw dataset on the user’s computer:

>>> from bob.extension import rc
>>> class AtntDatabase:
...     def __init__(self, directory=rc['']):
... = directory

bob.extension.rc is a dictionary which returns None for non-existing keys so you don’t have to worry about exception handling for non-existing keys.


Use bob.extension.rc only to get the values of variables that you have no way of knowing their value. The directory of datasets is a good example. Unless the user specifies where the data is located, you have no way of knowing such information in advance. For example, using the global configuration system to configure the extension of files in a dataset is not appropriate. Such value is known in advance and it should not be the job of the user to set it.


In order to avoid chaos, we strongly recommend the variables of each package start with the name of the package. For example, if the variable is used in bob.db.atnt, its name should be bob.db.atnt.<name>. This is required to avoid variable name clashes between hundreds of Bob packages.

In the documentation of your package you need not to explain how the configuration system works. Just provide an example command on how the variable should be configured. For example:

$ bob config set /path/to/mydatabase

And refer to this page for more information. You can create a link to this page using the :ref: command like this: :ref:`bob.extension.rc`.